DEMO 3 – Agro-Industry LANTMÄNNEN – Sweden
Sector 3. Agriculture, food, energy
Demonstration of an IBLC inside the grain-milling and feed industry for the production of straw-based bio-commodities for the transport sector (bioethanol and bio-oil).
Main actors involved
RISE and Processum
Around 29.000 farmers, members of Lantmännen, harvest their grain from August-October and deliver it to Lantmännen to produce flour for food and animal feed. Part of the grain is used for bioethanol production and a pelletised sub-product that is sold as animal feed.
Apart from the grain, the Swedish farmers produce a byproduct that is straw. The straw is either harvested and used for feed or bedding but a significant part has no use today so it is ploughed down into the soil. Many studies have identified straw as the largest potential unused agricultural by-product.
The new business activity includes the use of straw as a new feedstock in the current process of producing bioethanol to achieve products of higher value from the whole straw value chain. The existing bioethanol plant is depending on grain market prices. For this reason, during some periods, the plant operates in partial load or has to purchase other feedstocks like sugar that, as well as the grain, does compete with the food market. In order to avoid these problems and make the process economically more attractive, the farmers’ cooperative Lantmännen aims to diversify the feedstock by using straw as a non-food source to obtain bioethanol. One challenge in this sense is to create a new logistic in order to deliver along the year a raw material that is produced seasonally.
Producing 2nd generation ethanol from straw is a well-established process. However, the problem is to handle the by-product, a lignin rich residue which has a high value if refined into a product such as; liquid fuel or bio-material. Nowadays, this lignin rich residue is usually de-watered and combusted in a CHP plant to produce heat and power with a very low turnover. Moreover, it is not economically profitable to produce ethanol from straw if the value of the lignin that is part of the straw, is not included in the calculation.
Lantmännen new business activity aims to change towards a non-food feed stock for ethanol production in order to further develop the straw value chain. The profitability of the straw value chain will increase by producing both, ethanol and products of higher value from the lignin (sulphur free bio-oil to be used as biodiesel enhancer).
Nowadays, most of the farmers who harvest the grain that is delivered to the ethanol plant leave the straw on the ground since there is no current market for it. Around 80 kt/yr of cereal straw can be considered potentially available for the ethanol production in the surrounding regions of the county Östergötland and Södermanland with a radius of 100 km. This calculation of the potential has taken into account uses in animal production and sustainable soil practices. The straw is a seasonal resource, therefore part of the challenge is to receive the straw during the harvesting season, handle the straw all year and deliver it to the plant in time for production.
Valorisation of 80 kt/year of straw that is currently unexploited and that can be used as a non-food application.
Turnover: An increase in the turnover of approximately 20 Million € when the plant is operating at full scale (TRL9), considering the three new streams provided (bioethanol from straw, bio-oil and the char).
Employability: 25 new jobs are envisaged considering the following aspects. First, the strengthening of employees in the farming sphere, as straw will come as a valuable resource. Second, the new opportunities for straw logistics needed to handle the 80 kt/year and finally, new staff for the operation and management of the new business line in Lantmännen.
Reduction of the average payback period in equipment investments: 50%.